There is a thin line in Brazil between when it is legal or not to take photographs. This article will cover the main points of this issue, and will also explain how to get authorizations in certain occasions.
Brazilian legislation is not entirely clear when the subject is on the legal use and production of photographs. Freedom of the press and liberty of expression are conquered rights in the country, but, in some situations, the photographer is not allowed to take pictures. In other cases, a fee must be paid in order to receive an authorization for this activity. All of these variations occur due to the fact that the Brazilian law allows different interpretations.
Taking Photographs in Public Areas
The Brazilian law defines that “works placed permanently in public areas can be represented freely”, including through photography. So, anybody can take pictures in these spaces without the need of authorizations.
However, it is important to highlight that:
- The objects classified as “works” by the Brazilian law are sculptures, paintings, buildings’ facade, illustrations, and other objects.
- “Public areas” is the closest translation to “logradouro público”, which is defined in Brazil as places able to be accessed freely by the population, with no restrictions.
Streets and squares are examples of “logradouros públicos”.
Taking Photographs in Parks
Parks are considered public patrimony. Therefore, a park is not a public area, and photographs and films produced inside this type of establishment may require an authorization.
Many cities have already adopted this posture. The needed procedures really vary from one city to another, but basically consists of contacting the city hall or other competent entity with antecedence, and then explain, through a form or message, what type of activity will be made and when it will be realized.
Most of the time, only photographs taken with commercial purpose require the payment of a fee. These include photos made by professional photo studios or those made for advertising campaigns. Nevertheless, in cities like São Paulo, a term committing that the images produced will not be used commercially might also apply.
Taking Photographs of People
It is legal in Brazil to take photographs of “private persons”, with the premise that they are in a public space and that the image does not hurt its privacy rights. Essentially, photos considered of public utility might be taken. The problem, though, is that this is a really subjective matter, and could trigger long arguments and even legal processes.
That being said, if the photo is not produced for commercial purposes, the photographer does not need an authorization, although this might be recommended to avoid arguments. It is important to remember that, taking pictures of somebody inside a private space, like their apartment for example, is illegal, unless an authorization is given by the photographed.
There are some cases where the photographer needs to be careful, and perhaps require a permit, signed by the photographed or its responsible party. Examples are pictures of:
- Victims of accidents, except when it is impossible to identify the person
- Drugged, drunk, or emotionally uncontrolled persons, except when it is impossible to identify him/her
- Military officers
- Police officers who are out of duty, unless they cannot be identified
- Children without their parents or responsible parties